The Legends of the Rocking Dutchman - episode 267

Legends Mix

This transcript of the radio show is an approximation of what I said in the show. The real spoken parts may differ slightly.

And I'm back again, my faithful listeners, back to bring you some more of the most exciting music there had been around, the blues, jazz and Rhythm & Blues of the days before Rock 'n Roll, from the roaring twenties to the rocking fifties. A great mix again, it has the obscure and the obvious again, good hits together with records that everyone has forgotten about.

And we start in the twenties with one of the greats of jazz - be it that he used to brag about his importance in the music scene - more than he needed to. His claim to have invented jazz raised some eyebrows and many think, had he been more modest about himself, he would have gotten more recognition in life.

Jelly Roll Morton was one of the Chicago jazzmen who came from New Orleans - but he'd made a wide detour that had brouhgt him up in Canada. Once landed in the Windy City, he made many recordings that now are considered a classic. Here is one of them. From 1929 on the Victor label, here he is with Pretty Lil.

01 - Jelly Roll Morton - Pretty Lil
02 - Harlem Hot Chocolates - Sing, You Sinners

From 1930 on the Durium Hit Of The Week label that were - according to the label - the Harlem Hot Chocolates with Sing You Sinners. Now these Hot Chocolates were in fact the band of Duke Ellington, and the singer was Irving Mills, a man with Russian-Jewish ancestry and an important music publisher. It's not sure why Ellington's name wasn't on the label, but the combination of his band and a white singer, may have something to do with it.

Sing You Sinners was a popular tune of the day, in fact it was a gospel parody. The song is about how to get the devil out of your way by singing, but in a gospel setting, that would have been singing about the Lord. Non-sacred music often was seen as music of the devil, and that wild jazz of the twenties for sure had that reputation with the conservative church-going crowd. At least in their eyes, singing and playing jazz would get you nowhere.

The song was used in the 1930 movie Honey, and in an adapted form in a Max Fleischer cartoon titled Swing You Sinners, where dog Bimbo is being chased and threatened by the ghosts of a haunted cemetery. Now that is quite an eerie movie - those cartoons definitely were not suitable for kids.

Next a woman who made fame in the forties when she signed for Capitol - but she'd recorded before with her brother George Lee in 1929. He had a band of fame in the thriving Kansas City jazz scene. Now it's clear that back then Julia Lee already had found her distinctive style. Here she is with He's Tall, Dark and Handsome.

03 - Julia Lee - He's Tall, Dark and Handsome
04 - Big Bill Broonzy - They Can't Do That


05 - State Street Ramblers - Tell Me, Cutie
06 - Joe Evans and Arthur McClain - John Henry Blues

From '31 on the Perfect label, the John Henry Blues of mandolin player Joe Evans and guitarist Arthur McClain, credited on the label as the Two Poor Boys. They were from Eastern Tennessee and their style is a mix of rural blues and Appalachian hillbilly music. Their complete output - some twenty sides recorded for Gennett and the ARC labels - it's on a CD of the Document series.

You got more - these were four in a row. Before these two Appalachian bluesmen, you got Tell Me Cutie of the State Street Ramblers. This was not an existing band that played its gigs in Chicago - it were studio sessions led by pianist Jimmy Blythe - and session men were Johnny and Baby Dodds, Natty Dominique and Bill Johnson, among others. This Tell Me Cutie was recorded in 1928 in Richmond, IN in the Gennett studio and released on the Champion label.

And then I have to account what was before the jingle, that was Big Bill Broonzy with They Can't Do That, that he recorded in September of 1930 for the ARC labels. On the label he was billed as Sammy Sampson.

For the next one we make a jump to 1937 when Charlie West recorded this Hand Me Down My Old Suitcase for the Vocalion label under the name of Poor Charlie. Here it is.

07 - Charley West - Hand Me Down My Old Suitcase
08 - Johnnie Strauss - St. Louis Johnnie Blues

From 1934 the obscure Johnnie Strauss with the St. Louis Johnnie Blues. Strauss did one session for Decca that made it to two releases.

And more of the obscurest singers - backed by Big Bill Broonzy here is, from 1941 on the Okeh label, Jean Brady with My Mellow Man.

09 - Jean Brady - My Mellow Man
10 - De Paris Brothers - Change O' Key Boogie

From 1944 on the Commodore label, the brothers De Paris with the Change O' Key Boogie. Wilbur played the trombone, his brother Sidney the trumpet. Their first band together, that you just heard, lasted only two years, it disbanded when Wilbur joined Duke Ellington to take the place of Tricky Sam Nanton. In 1947 they again formed a band, the New New Orleans Band, helping keep the New Orleans jazz tradition alive, working with several musicians who had served in Jelly Roll Morton's band. This band played in New York in the club of Jimmy Ryan for eleven years.

Next from 1948 on the Excelsior label King Perry and his band. Perry played the saxophone, but he mastered more instruments - violin, trumpet, bass, piano and clarinet. His first recordings were for the Melodisc label in 1945, the combo he leads on the Excelsior session is another one. Here he is with Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket.

11 - King Perry - Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket
12 - Louis Jordan - They Raided The House

From 1945 Louis Jordan with They Raided the House - a cover of Hot Lips Page's They Raided The Joint about the singer getting excluded from all the fun of a booze party, until the police comes in, and he's the only one not arrested. Hot Lips Page's composition made it to a classic that's still being performed today - the most famous cover of course is Helen Humes backed by the band of Buck Clayton.

Next the band of Buster Moten, the brother of Bennie Moten. After Bennie died, Buster was determined to take over his brother's band, but the pianist had plans for his own. That was Count Basie and he took most of the band members with him.

Bus Moten played the accordion, not a very frequent appearance in jazz and Rhythm & Blues, but he shows off the instrument is well suited for it.

Here are, on the Capitol label from 1949, Bus Moten and His Men with Gone.

13 - Bus Moten & His Men - Gone
14 - Flo Garvin - Let Me Keep You Warm

The band of Jimmy Coe fronted by Flo Garvin - you got Let Me Keep You Warm and that was from 1952 on the King label. Garvin was from Indianapolis where she had the first show on local TV hosted by an African-American - opening doors for other African-American artists. Jimmy Coe also was from Indianapolis and he was a member of the band of Tiny Bradshaw, but he did one session as a leader himself - billed on the label as Jimmy Cole.

Next on the Blue Lake pianist Sunnyland Slim with the instrumental Bassology. There were two versions around - one recorded for the J.O.B-label and one for Blue Lake. The slap bass player, prominently playing the boogie-woogie accompaniment was identified as Big Crawford. Who did these one-note harmonica punches is not cleared up by the researchers of the Red Saunders Research Foundation - by far the most knowledgeable institution on Chicago's postwar Rhythm & Blues scene. At least they reject the idea that it was Snooky Prior - he could do better than that.

Anyhow it's a very enjoyable piece of music. Here is Sunnyland Slim with Bassology.

15 - Sunnyland Slim - Bassology
16 - Wild Bill Moore - Harlem Parade

And the Harlem Parade of saxophone honker Wild Bill Moore together with Paul Hucklebuck Williams end today's show. This was from 1947 released on the Savoy label, and recorded just a few days before the instrumental that you hear in the background and that I always go out with, the Bongo Bounce. Just in case you wondered, listeners, what that honker is that ends all of my shows.

And well, now that I'm at it, let me also tell you what I start every show with and that's an obscurity by all means. The saxophonist who done this one that's titled the Saxaphone Rag is some Robert Truesdale and he was the lead tenor of a vocal group named the Cufflinks. One of the group members got sick the day they had a date at the studio for a session for the Dootone label. Truesdale happened to be good at the saxophone, and so he fronted the studio band that was led by Kirk Kirkland, to get out this instrumental rocker. The vocal group disbanded shortly after and the instrumental was released, as the flip of their last remaining song from a previous session.

And with that story I'm getting towards the end of today's show. So that leaves me to tell the usual stuff that you get - like where you can provide feedback, ask questions or for whatever reason you would want to contact me. The e-mail address is - and feedback on this show is greatly appreciated.

The today's story, and a sneak peek on what will be on for next week, you can find it at the website of this show, and that's easy to find, just type Legends of the Rocking Dutchman in Google and it will show up first. Once in, go to the episodes page and look for show number 267 - that's this one.

For now I'm done. You will have to wait another week for more of my stories and the best of Rhythm & Blues. So I hope to see you again next week, here on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman!